The holiday season is considered a joyous time of year filled with gratitude, family gatherings and an abundance in the form of meals and gifts. This however is not always true; the holidays can be a source of anxiety due to lack of resources which creates additional stress. For many, the holiday mays be a period of sadness as it is a reminder of loved ones lost. This combination of sadness, anxiety and stress is sometimes referred to as holiday blues. The surge of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant increased anxiety around the possibility of infection, the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs and financial security, and the loss of family holiday traditions. What “should” be a period of celebration may in fact be a time of grief for your mentee. Being consistent, providing a listening ear and encouragement are invaluable to your mentee. It is also important to normalize what your mentee may be experiencing and let them know that they are not alone. iMentor has a plethora of resources to connect your mentee to, depending on what your mentee is grappling with. Some are listed in the resources section and your Program Manager (PM)can connect you to others.
The ongoing global pandemic may not only impact your mentee’s holiday traditions but also their post-secondary program. Your mentee may be experiencing frequent changes to program expectations such as: in-person vs. virtual, changes to their schedule and assignments, and even their instructors. Many are still adjusting to virtual learning and feelings of isolation. This may also be compounded by your mentee’s ability to access technology, reliable Wi-fi or even simply a quiet place to work. With so many things to juggle, it is easy for your mentee to lose sight of tasks that they need to complete to be successful next semester such as: a quick academic check on current classes, reapplying for FAFSA, course selection and ensuring that they have reliable housing. You can serve as a thought partner to help your mentee set up a plan as to how to complete these tasks, as well as guide them through the process or to appropriate resources.
Prompts for Communication:
When you connect with your mentee, engage with them on a personal level instead of diving into task-related conversations. The question “How are you?” often elicits the response “fine”. Try asking a variation that gives your mentee the opportunity to share more information with you. You want your mentee to know that you are there for them, that you will listen and that what they are experiencing is valid. As much as you feel comfortable, share how you have been coping and maybe a challenge that you may be facing and how you are addressing it. Struggling openly and sharing coping mechanisms can help your mentee normalize their experience.
Talking about the tasks that your mentee needs to address to be successful in the following semester may be overwhelming. Preface the conversation by letting your mentee know that it is okay if they haven’t completed certain tasks and offer reassurance that you are there to help them get organized, make a plan, provide reminders and connect them to additional resources as needed. Tasks that your mentee needs to complete are:
- Reapply for FAFSA
- Degree audit
- Check that their tuition payment plan and balance are up to date
- Sign-up for an iMentor advising session
- Course selection for the upcoming semester
- Prepping for final projects & exams
- Secure housing
- Work -study or part-time employment as applicable
Moving Into The Holidays: https://www.wendtcenter.org/moving-into-the-holidays/
Telehealth Counseling Services (FREE Until August 2020): Better Help https://www.betterhelp.com/dellscholars/
Alternative Questions to “How Are You?”: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/questions-ask-instead-of-how-are-you_l_5fa2efd4c5b6b35537e341d1
Task Management Tools: https://collegeinfogeek.com/task-planning-system/